Ukraine, Russia attacks intensify, African peace move fails - GulfToday

Ukraine, Russia attacks intensify, African peace move fails

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It appears that the Ukraine and Russia are willing to fight a long war.

On Tuesday, Ukraine claimed that it had shot down 32 of 35 Iran-made Shaded drones fired from Russia, and that it had recaptured Ukrainian territory captured by the Russians since the war began in February last year. Russia on its part said that it had destroyed eight ammunition depots across Ukraine and also repelled Ukrainian attacks.

Last week, Ukraine and Russia held on to their uncompromising and incompatible positions for peace talks when a delegation of African leaders from South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, and Comoros came calling with a draft peace proposal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “We need real peace, and therefore, a real withdrawal of Russian troops from our entire independent land.” South African President Cyril Ramphosa cited famous South African leader Nelson Mandela saying “even when the conflict becomes most intense, that is when peace should be made.” Comoros President Azali Assoumani, who is also the current chair of African Union, said, “It is not in our interest to simply do nothing. That would be cowardly. This discussion is absolutely necessary.”

The African leaders also pointed out that they have been affected by the Russian-Ukraine war because of the disruption in wheat and fertiliser exports from Ukraine due to the war and the resultant food shortages and inflation in their economies. When the African leaders met Russian President Vladimir Putin, they met with resistance as in the case of Zelensky. Putin told the African leaders that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not the reason for Africa’s economic woes, and that it has been caused by the Western democracies. While expressing openness about peace talks, he rejected Russian withdrawal of troops, which is one of the conditions of the draft peace proposal.

It appears that the two countries are willing to fight a long war, and Ukraine seems confident that the United States and the European countries would continue with the financial and military support. Ukrainians have indeed held out for more than a year even as the fortunes of war swung wildly from one side to another, with the initial Russian onslaught last year fizzling out, and then the Russians focusing on the eastern parts of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian forces fighting their way back in parts of eastern Ukraine.

Right now, the Ukrainians have launched a counter-offensive which is yet to show results, though the Russians have admitted setbacks. But the loss of life and destruction of cities and villages in Ukraine has been intense and widespread, even as Russians complain that Ukraine drones and missiles are fired right inside Russia, including Moscow.

The African peace initiative might have hit a roadblock but it will be necessary to make similar attempts because it does not seem that any one side will win this war, and a long conflict will not serve any purpose. The Russians might agree to a withdrawal if there is an assurance from the US and Europe that Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO, which has been the main reason that Russia attacked Ukraine. But it will be argued that after the Russian attack, it becomes all the more necessary to bring Ukraine into NATO. Already NATO expansion plans are afoot, with Finland already a member and Sweden awaiting Turkish consent because NATO membership is decided by consensus. What the US and rest of Europe will have to decide is whether confrontation with Russia would serve any purpose. It is true that Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil had led to a situation when Russia used it as a weapon to pressurise Europe. It is not an easy choice for the West to deal with Russia because there is too much bad blood between the two, and it goes back a long time in history.

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